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Writers Discuss - Cliffhangers (#26)

  • Member
    December 23, 2015

    Writers Discuss

    Topic #26 – Cliffhangers

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    Cliffhangers have as much to do with what you show as what you don't show. We hear them talked about a lot and plenty of story tellers use them. But why? Let's think about it, shall we?

    Here are some questions to consider:

    Why do we use cliffhangers?

    What are your personal opinions on cliffhangers?

    How can we deliver good cliffhangers in our stories?

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    If you have any suggestions for future topics include them in the comments section!

  • Member
    December 24, 2015

    Why do we use cliffhanger? The answer is both simple and complex. We use them to entice the reader to be excited to turn the page and continue reading or to wait for the next chapter to be uploaded. For the complex part, I'm not even going to speak anything of it.

    What are your personal opinions on cliffhangers? My opinion(s) on them are bring them on. I enjoy a good one whenever they are needed. They keep me guessing until the next chapter in its sequence is read. Makes me gitty too. 

    How can we deliver good cliffhangers in our stories? That all depends on not only one's skill of writing and how attached we are to the characters we write about. The cliffhangers we deliver should punch home, make the reader wonder what's going to happen right after it. Always keep the reader guessing on the outcome and (maybe) give them a complete twist of fate.  

  • December 15, 2016

    Inline image 1


    Reviving a year later because 1). skeletons are easier to raise than still-fleshy-bodies, and 2). I regret not being able to participate in these since I wasn't writing when these were posted. 


    Why do we use cliffhangers?

    Because they're page turners! Shows like GoT and The Walking Dead thrive on cliffhangers. That's like their whole appeal. Same thing with "NEXT TIME ON DRAGON BALL Z". When I started writing, I came in knowing that these shows only survived for so long because they tickle our primal brains with their violence and sex. Everyone dies, nothing is sacred, and missing out means behind left behind - "out of the loop". Those social pressures to belong pull us from episode to episode just as much as the promises of further violence and sex. 

    I still don't know how this is handled in print, but I have recently begun trying to leave one of the delectable things at the end of each of my chapters. Cliffhangers are the carrot on the stick held out in front of the reader. It's just important the reader actually get the carrot before you're 5 seasons in and show no signs of stopping. 


    What are your personal opinions on cliffhangers?

    They're great! I want to experience cliff hangers. I want to think about the next time I get to read further and find out what happens. I've found them hard to pull off well and consistently without becoming trite, though. 

    How can we deliver good cliffhangers in our stories? 

    Deliver the big reveal at the end of the chapter, but save its consequences for the following chapter. I think? 

  • December 15, 2016

    1). skeletons are easier to raise than still-fleshy-bodies

    Somebody´s been paying attention during class... xD

  • Member
    December 16, 2016

    Why do we use cliff hangers in our stories and why do readers enjoy them?


    Who cares……..


    Well, the writer for one and the readers do as well. What is a cliff hanger though? And no, it isn’t some off breed from Morrowind. A spawn of a cliff racer maybe?


    Before I look at why I use them I tend to think of what ones to use. Writers and readers seem to jumble them up in a single heading… Cliff Hanger….


    Yet there’s more than one type we have at our disposal.


    There’s the comedy cliff hanger:

    Sotek and Aela accidently smashes a vase during one of their roughhousing moments. Tilma, who was in another room, heard the crash and stepped into the corridor. Aela, who was smirking, gulped as she saw a broom handle poke out of the doorway.

    “Aww hell”.


    This is hardly a fear factor is it? Mind you Tilma does wield the dreaded ‘Broom of Death’. But it still works as a cliff hanger. People want to know what Tilma will do and what will happen to Sotek and Aela as a result of Tilma’s wrath.


    There’s the ‘All of Hell breaking loose’ cliff hanger which gives the reader a burst of adrenalin along with our characters. It’s a strange cliff hanger as it lays out the threat for the reader, telling them exactly what is going on. One could be something as simple as:




    We have the suspense Cliff Hanger. One we tend to use for atmospherics:

    The two adventurers make their way through the final chamber. It’s pitched in darkness which seemed to suck the light of the torches to barely a glow while the cold stench of death caused the Female Nord to cough. She stopped, frozen to the spot and grabs her companions arm in fright.

    “What the hell was that?”


    While similar to the ‘All of Hell’ scenario, we have a huge amount of suspense here. The fact is the reader has no idea what is happening. They just know something is but what?


    Now here we have options. Do we give the reader what they expect? A Draugr Deathlord who crept out of the shadows?


    Or do we make a mockery of the entire situation? How many times in life are we afraid of something? An unknown factor which turns out to be nothing?

    For all they know it could be the dreaded Argonian, Unstoppabalzius Kills-With-A-Glance. It’s not his fault the maps faulty. The poor bastards been stuck in the tomb for three days, he just wants to get out.


    These are just a few basic examples of cliffhangers which we can use to add cause and effect while keeping the element of surprise for the reader. It’s the unknowing and the what if? These cannot be underestimated as to the importance to the readers.


    Let’s not forget the writer as well.

    How many of us writers are really looking forwards to a specific section of writing where it delivers an almighty punch?

  • Member
    December 17, 2016

    Yay! More WD's

    Good plints above;,. another factor is that you can use a cliff racer hanger to invest your readers into the story more. They're left wanting more and thinking about the story after they finsih reading it. They think back to past chapters and try to predict what will happen next. This activily engages the reader and helps create a feeling of interaction that helps deepen their connection to the story. Just don't go on hiatus after a cliffhanger for nine years while your heros are stuck on a boat, like a certain magna did...